Blackbird - Wanted poster, food and help in winter

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The blackbird bears the scientific name Turdus merula. It is one of the best-known songbird species in Europe. A blackbird male is considered to be extremely creative in the invention of his tunes in his Reviergesang. This can be said in spring from an exposed point, such as a roof, fence post or tree. Since the male has the darkest plumage of all thrush species, including the blackbird, it is sometimes called the Black Thrush.

  • scientific name: Turdus merula
  • other names: Blackwing
  • belongs to the genus of thrushes within the order of passerine birds
  • native songbird species
  • Size: up to 27cm
  • Span: up to 40 cm
  • Plumage: male black, female gray and brown
  • Age: up to 6 years
  • Weight: on average 100 grams
Appearance and distinguishing features of the blackbird
Male blackbirds are very striking due to their shiny black plumage with the bright yellow to orange beak. In addition, they show a beak ring around the eyes. Occasionally, one also sees a blackbird with white spots caused by a genetic defect. In general, the males are about 27 cm tall, only slightly larger than the female birds.
Beak and eye ring are less colorful in the female. Occasionally you will also find bright yellow beaks, but browns are more common. Female blackbirds are much better camouflaged by their brown plumage. The colors vary from dark brown over olive tones to slightly greyish and reddish brown. The breast area is spotted or striped in brown-gray to yellow-brown.
food sources
Blackbirds are mostly found on the ground during foraging. They are considered undemanding omnivores and feed on both meat and vegetable diet. During the rearing of juveniles, most invertebrates belong to the diet of the blackbird:
  • worms
  • snails
  • Beetle
  • be crazy
  • centipede
Occasionally the predatory bird also loots smaller lizards or snakes. The eggs or young birds of other bird species are also not safe from him. In the colder season different berries and fruits are very popular. Because of the very different food supply and the rearing of the juvenile birds, the weight of a blackbird varies greatly. In August, when the breeding season comes to an end, blackbirds reach their lowest weight of around 50-70 grams. In the fall, when the supply of animal and plant foods is highest, they consume fat reserves, so that in January they weigh about two to three times about 150 grams.
food supply
Blackbirds are known for their unique way of foraging. Often you can observe them, as they aim on the lawn or under bushes motionless with a head tilted to a certain point on the ground. Then suddenly they grab with a lightning fast picking motion and capture the prey animal with its beak. At times, they also scrabble noisily in dry leaves or a compost heap to capture worms or beetles.
breeding season
The breeding season begins with the blackbirds already in February to March. This makes the songbirds one of the premiere breeders. During a season, the couples are mostly monogamous. Depending on their distribution area, blackbirds raise two to three year-old broods. In warmer summers or areas, they can breed until the end of August. For a new mating and egg laying the blackbird female does not usually wait until the last brood has left the parents. This phenomenon is called nest brood. The father of the new juvenile does not necessarily have to be the first brood. Often the father is left alone with the young birds, while the blackbird female incubates with a new partner a new nest.
Nesting place and brood care
Blackbirds nest mainly in trees or shrubs, rarely on the ground. The typical nest height is about 1.5-2 meters. There are placed between four and five eggs at intervals of 24 hours, at the end of the breeding season usually only two. After incubation by the female, who leaves her clutch only for food intake (feeding by the male is rare), the young birds hatch after an average of 13 days. After only two to three weeks, the young birds leave the nest. At this time, however, they are not able to fly and are therefore still fed by the parents on the ground. With an age of 7-8 weeks, they are self-employed and leave the parents.
The right food in winter
About 75% of the blackbird population stays with us over the winter. Actually, blackbirds are dependent on at least small amounts of protein-containing food (insects) all year round. If this is scarce, they dodge on remaining on trees and shrubs berries such as hawthorn or ivy berries.Blackbirds usually do not need to be fed until January, as the food supply in nature is still quite rich. Blackbirds are among the soft-food eaters. in the Unlike the grain eaters, they can not do anything with sunflower seeds. Blackbirds need either a lot of food or plenty of food to maintain their body temperature in winter. High fat levels provide a great deal of energy, so fat-soaked crushed grains are particularly good for feeding.
  • oatmeal
  • wheat flakes
  • bran
Fresh food is rich in vitamins, which the blackbirds urgently need in the cold season. They like to eat fresh apples, but they also do not spurn fresh fruits. A particularly tasty and sugar-rich treat are raisins. Raisins prefer to eat blackbirds rather than fresh apples. Tip: Salted foods should not be fed. Also, bread is not suitable because it spoils quickly and swells in the stomach of the bird.
The right feeding place
Best of all blackbirds are offered the food near the ground. For this special soil feed dispensers are available. Place the feeding place where you can watch the birds well. Keep in mind, however, that there should be a fair amount of trees or bushes to protect the birds. Natural enemies of the blackbird are:
  • Birds of prey such as sparrow hawk, peregrine falcon
  • squirrel
  • magpies
  • cats
Bottom feeders can also be easily self-built. The food should not be directly on the ground. It is better to place this on an old plate. As protection against the weather, an old wooden box is used. Here one longitudinal side and one transverse side are removed and instead the roof is supported with suitable poles. So the birds have the opportunity to fly away on two sides and the food is protected from wind and rain. Tip: Important is also a good hygiene. The best are feed dispensers where the birds do not walk around in the feed. Otherwise, the feeding area should be cleaned regularly with hot water.
Worth knowing about blackbirds soon
  • The blackbird is a half-cave breeder. She needs to be able to observe her surroundings at all times.
  • A suitable nesting box for a blackbird must therefore have a large opening at the front. But they are so well accessible to robbers.
  • Therefore, a new nesting box has been developed: This now has two oval Einfluglöcher of about 32 x 50 mm in size.
  • There are also nesting boxes with a special front stem. These boxes can be hung freely.
  • The half-cave has an additional breeding room insert. Even on dark hanging areas, the entrance opening provides good light.
  • Blackbirds often breed several times in a row. They rebuild the old nest over and over again. It is always being increased.
  • It can lead to contamination and parasite infestation. You should remove the old nest immediately after the brood, before the blackbirds build again.
By the way: in spite of nesting boxes, blackbirds often simply breed in a hedge. They just like it when they have everything under control. You can help them there by moving the hedge trimming to the time after hatching. While the birds are brooding, the hedge is left as it is. Blackbirds like a birdbath that is big enough for them to take a bath. Especially when it is warm, blackbirds like to bathe.

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